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Watercolors by Walla Walla Artist Debbie Bruce

Carolyn Henderson: Talk about Art


Winter in the Walla

For many of us, our exposure to watercolor is limited to the plastic paint sets our parents picked up at the box store. In less than an hour, the neat little ovals of 12 separate colors turned into a mass of mess, and that's saying nothing about what the painting we worked on looked like.

Lesson learned early: watercolor painting is not child's play.

But done by the right hands – those of a skilled and competent artist with hundreds, or thousands, of hours of practice and experimentation -- watercolor paintings are beautiful indeed: translucent, colorful, delicate yet bold.

"What is difficult about watercolor is also what makes it fun and wonderful," says Debbie Bruce, a Walla Walla artist who has been working in the medium for more than 20 years.

"It needs to be planned out carefully, and is more about letting the light come through, knowing what to leave, and allowing the transparency and light and dark values bring out drama and color."

Bruce creates landscape and floral works with an easy, flowing style, one that belies the careful preparation and thought that goes into every piece. Thirty years as a professional florist result in a keen appreciation for flowers in all their intricacy.

"I especially love to paint light coming through the petals," Bruce says. "I am intrigued by the unending variety and color that flowers bring, and to me they are a great expression of joy and beauty."

Bruce's work, which includes original paintings as well as paper and ceramic prints, note cards, and coasters, is on special display at Wenaha Gallery through Saturday, June 2. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.


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